Albanese backs funding boost as Rugby Australia announces historic Women's investment

Fri, Feb 10, 2023, 11:57 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
RA has outlined their plans to invest into women's rugby for 2023. Photo: Getty Images
RA has outlined their plans to invest into women's rugby for 2023. Photo: Getty Images

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has thrown his support behind Rugby Australia's first step towards making the Wallaroos fully professional as they confirm a $2 million injection into the women's game.

Albanese hosted RA chairman Hamish McLennan, current Wallaroos players and head coach Jay Tregonning amongst others as the first step of a planned increase in investment over the next five years were revealed at Kirribilli House.

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The main change is the introduction of central part-time contracts for the Wallaroos with Rugby Australia.

This will see a list of up to 35 players contracted across three tiers, with the potential to earn between $30,000 and $52,000 in payments across Wallaroos and Super W in 2023.

It will also see Super W players receive a minimum payment of $4,000 from the organisation, with further payments to come from the Super clubs.

"I want to congratulate Rugby Australia and all the players and trailblazers who negotiated, organised, sacrificed and worked together to progress the professionalisation of the women’s game," Albanese said in a statement.

“As the superstars of our Rugby Sevens have shown - the fastest and best way to grow the game is to inspire the next generation of women and girls to take part.

“Making sure current and future female superstars are paid a wage will play a huge part in that.”

Along with this, a parenting and pregnancy guideline has been agreed in principle, with the new investments coming after the sport’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was agreed by the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA), Rugby Australia and the Super clubs.

All up, it is an increase of 60% as the sport looks to build on a 'Golden Decade' and emulate the success of the fully-professional Sevens program.

"Australia hosting the women’s Rugby World Cup in 2029 presents us with a great target for women’s Rugby – we want the Wallaroos to win our home World Cup, with a fully professional squad of heroes inspiring the next generation," RA Chairman Hamish McLennan said.

“We saw this team’s amazing tenacity, determination, and fighting spirit as they reached the Quarter-Finals at last year’s Rugby World Cup – this was a performance that will lay the foundation for the future of the Wallaroos.

“Rugby Australia has committed additional funding into Women’s Rugby this year and is pushing hard for further investment and corporate support – and we are delighted to have the best Rugby coach in the world in Eddie Jones providing input into the Wallaroos in his role as an Adviser.

“It is just the beginning, but the future for Women’s Rugby in Australia looks very bright.”

The move comes with Australia set to host the women’s Rugby World Cup in 2029, with CEO Andy Marinos outlaying plans in the past to have a fully-professional Wallaroos by the 2025 World Cup in England

"We have seen the success of our women’s Rugby Sevens program after ten years of investment by Rugby Australia, the Federal Government through the AIS, and numerous corporate supporters – it is perhaps the benchmark high performance program for women in the country," Marinos added.

“In addition to the team’s many successes, the program has also given us heroes like Charlotte Caslick, Maddison Levi and Sharni Williams, who have inspired girls all around the country to the point that participation levels in girls’ Sevens teams are growing strongly year-on-year. As we all know, you can’t be what you can’t see – we want our next heroes for the girls of Australia to be Wallaroos’ rising stars like Piper Duck, Grace Kemp and Eva Karpani.

“This is just the beginning – we still have a lot of work to do, but this is far and away the largest investment that we have ever made into women’s Rugby. We are determined to continue the growth in coming years to ensure that our goals become a reality.”

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